The increasing development of the submarine after WWII resulted in a weapon with increased range and speed. Countering this threat led to the development of early detectionsystems and the development of a standoff weapons system able to countermand this treat. That weapons system was the Westland Wasp, a small first-generation, gas-turbine powered, shipboard anti-submarinehelicopter.
Based on the earlier piston-engine Saunders-Roe Skeeter the Westland Wasp fulfilled the requirement of the Royal Navy for a manned torpedocarrying helicopter whose sole purposes was to destroy submarines.Equipped with no Sonar of its own and small enough to land on the deckof a frigate and carrying a useful load of two homing torpedoes the Westland Wasp was the perfect stand-off weapon.
Delivery to the Royal Netherlands Navy(MLD)
A requirement for a anti-submarinehelicopter developed in the Dutch navy after a fire aboard the aircraft carrier Karel Doorman in 1968. After the fire it was decided that the cost of the repair where to high as her withdrawal was planed for the early 1970s.This was to coincide with the arrival of long range maritime patrol aircraft that were to takeover the ASW role of the Karel Doorman. After this a order was placed for twelve Westland Wasp AH-12A helicopter to be operated from six Van Speijk class frigates in the anti submarine wore fare role.
The first twelve Westland Wasp AH-12A , a complete squadron, where delivered between November 1966 and June 1967. One attrition replacement Westland Wasp was ordered en delivered in 1974.
The Royal Netherlands Navy received twelve Westland Wasp helicopters between November1966 and June 1967, operated from Van Speijk class frigates as AH-12A’sand flown in the ASW role.
The introduction started in the spring off 1966 as a group off pilots and engineers left fore the Westland factory in Yeovil for a introduction in the Westland Wasp. After this introduction course the first three Westland Wasp were deployed to Culdrose NAS. With the additional training completed 860 Squadron started operations from de Kooy NAS
During the operational liver of the Westland Wasp the shore base was atde Kooy NAS. It was the parent unit for deployments to the Van Speijk Class Frigates. During the latter half of 1974, there were a number of ships flight assignments to RNAS Portland.
The Westland Wasp was primarily flown in the ASW role, it also operated in the SAR and transport role. The last of the Dutch Westland Wasps were eventually withdrawn from service in1981 when they were replaced by the Westland Lynx.
Squadrons equipped with the Westland Wasp AH-12A
860 sqn was formed in 1943 as a British Fleet Air Arm unit. After WW2 it was reformed as a Dutch Firefly squadron.
First formed 15 June 1943 at Donibristle, UK as 860 (Dutch) squadron,Fleet Air Arm. Tasked with providing 3 aircraft flights of Swordfish for the merchant aircraft carriers 19 July 1943 moved to Hatston, then to Dunino the following month, and to Machrihanish on 3 November. Converted from Swordfish I to mark II version. Transferred to Maydown 6 December 1943.
30 June 1945 took over Barracudas of 822 sqn. Successively based at Ayr,HMS Nairana, Fearn and then Saint Merryn. 9 May 1946 started converting to Firefly. September 1946 deployed to Hr MS Karel Doorman and handed over to Dutch naval control. Disembarked at Morokrembagan, Java, and participated in war of independence. Disbanded 18 March 1950.
Reformed 15 July 1950 with Sea Furys & crews from GVO. Normally embarkedon Hr MS Karel Doorman. 15 June 1956 aircraft passed to 3 sqn and disbanded. Reformed 18 September 1957 with twenty-two Sea Hawk FGA.50 at Valkenburg. Regularly deployed on HrMS Karel Doorman and also formed ‘Sealords’ aerobatic team. Disbanded 30 October 1964.
860 Squadron transformed as a helicopter unit on 4 Oct 1966, when it re-equipped with the AH-12A Wasp. It was the parent unit for deployments to the Van Speijk Class Frigates. During the latter half of 1974, therewere a number of ships flight assignments to RNAS Portland. The Wasps were retired in Dec 1980, after the introduction of the first SH-14BLynx during Oct 1978
End of the line
The last of the Dutch Westland Wasps AH-12A were eventually withdrawn from service in 1981 when they were replaced by the Westland Lynx.
The ten surplus Westland Wasps AH-12A were refurbished by Westland and delivered to the Indonesian navy, there they where operated by 400 Squadron from ex-Dutch Navy Van Speijk class frigates, the last of these Westland Wasp AH-12A were grounded in 1998.
At the moment one Westland Wasp helicopter is preserved in the traditionroom at de Kooy NAS. This is axially former XT795 marked as 235.